A press release issued Monday by the California Fair Political Practices Commission claims to have made regulations surrounding “dating” lawmakers and lobbyists “more stringent,” but an article in the Los Angeles Times questions whether or not the commission has relaxed the rules, not tightened them.
Under the new rules, which take effect January 1, 2012, officials will no longer be able to claim “a home hospitality” exemption, and an oft-used reason for receiving event tickets (performing a “ceremonial role”) will be given a narrower definition. Critics are not happy, however. Officials had complained that old rules were too “confusing” and “intrusive” when it came to reporting; the new rules allow officials to self-regulate, accepting gifts as long as they abstain from making decisions related to the gifting party. Commissioner Ronald D. Rotunda stood in lonely opposition to the new rules, stating that the reason that the commission exists in the first place is the lawmakers’ inability to police themselves.
Has the commission undercorrected, or is their approach as stringent as they advertise?
Phillip Ung, policy advocate, California Common Cause
William Lenkeit, senior commission counsel, California Fair Political Practices Commission